Devotion and Readings for August 29

Herod-Antipas

Bible Readings and Devotion for August 29, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:

Mark 6:14-29 

Job 6:1-14

Psalm 144-145

2 Kings 12

Devotion for August 29, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Verse 3 of the classic hymn, “God of Grace and God of Glory,” goes as follows:

Cure your children’s warring madness;

bend our pride to your control;

shame our wanton, selfish gladness,

rich in things and poor in soul.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,

lest we miss your kingdom’s goal,

lest we miss your kingdom’s goal.

The 2nd line has always caught my attention over the decades: “…bend our pride to your control…” This line challenged one of the most subtle forms of our sin against God.  Pride in the sinful sense, is a bit of self-worship, a bit of holding on to a wrong stance even when shown its major faults, a bit of “I can do life without God,” and more.  The great C. S. Lewis wrote about sinful pride in his classic work, “Mere Christianity.”  Here is some of what he wrote,

There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which everyone in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.

According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison. It was through pride that the Devil became the Devil: Pride leads to every other vice. It is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

This was quoted from a longer blog post about C. S. Lewis’s teachings about pride.  Here is the link to that article.  Click Link

cs-lewis at desk

I bring up pride today because we have a story about pride in our reading from Mark.  Herod Antipas has a party for his own birthday.  He liked the dance performance of his niece/step-daughter, and, in front of his party guests, promised as follows, “the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.””

Then she asks, at the recommendation of her mother, for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.  The mother asked this because she hated John and was angry about his preaching against her gross immorality.  The mother-daughter team took advantage of Herod’s pride.  He could not go back on such a bold and public promise, without hurting his pride and public reputation.  So, John is executed, and his head is presented to the girl and her mother.

Pride leads to all sorts of sinful mischief and damage.  With God’s help, and the Holy Spirit’s power, we can have our lives brought back in line with God’s way.  Like the hymn, we can pray, “…bend our pride to your control…”

Prayer

As our prayer, here is the full text of this hymn as we sing it in our congregations.

God of Grace and God of Glory

1          God of grace and God of glory,

on your people pour your pow’r;

crown your ancient church’s story;

bring its bud to glorious flow’r.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage

for the facing of this hour,

for the facing of this hour.

2          Lo! the hosts of evil round us

scorn the Christ, assail his ways!

From the fears that long have bound us

free our hearts to faith and praise.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage

for the living of these days,

for the living of these days,

3          Cure your children’s warring madness;

bend our pride to your control;

shame our wanton, selfish gladness,

rich in things and poor in soul.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,

lest we miss your kingdom’s goal,

lest we miss your kingdom’s goal.

4          Save us from weak resignation

to the evils we deplore;

let the gift of your salvation

be our glory evermore.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,

serving you whom we adore,

serving you whom we adore.  Amen

Text: Harry E. Fosdick, 1878-1969

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